Category Archives: CrossFit

Motivational Monday: True Strength

You know that point when you feel like quitting…..

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Posted by on July 2, 2012 in CrossFit, Motivation


Sunday Success Story: Staci

Staci’s story came across my news feed on facebook today. I follow Eat Fat Get Fit, and they were the ones to post her story. I felt like it was a perfect story today following my “counting calories” post on Friday (considering she eats 3,000-4,000 calories/day). I also have a problem with frequently stepping on that scale. Her story reminded me today that the scale shouldn’t determine how “in shape” I consider myself to be. I should just throw it out. Instead I should focus on what my body can do now that it couldn’t before.

Here is Staci’s story (copied from here):

Staci’s story is awesome for a number of reasons, but a few in particular stand out to me:

  • Working a sedentary desk job, Staci slowly packed on weight and ate like a typical unhealthy American.
  • Before getting educated, she tried to get in shape by doing what 95% of the female population does when they try to lose weight: she ran a lot and essentially starved herself – Not surprisingly, she dropped to an incredibly low and unhealthy weight.
  • She educated herself, cleaned up her diet, and immediately started feeling and living better.
  • She found the Nerd Fitness community, discovered a love for barbell strength training, and started lifting HEAVY weights.
  • She’s now in the best shape of her life, healthier and happier than ever before.

For the women out there who are scared about “getting too bulky when lifting weights,” this article is for you.  If you’re curious what happens to a girl who packs on twenty pounds of muscle and starts lifting heavy weights, you’ll find your answer here…I have no doubt it will surprise the hell out of you.

Staci in 2009 – 170 pounds

This is a picture of Staci back in 2009 before she decided to make some changes in her life.

As I said previously, Staci works a typical American desk job where she spends all day in front of a computer screen.

Starting around age 16, she started to put on weight relatively steadily through high school and college and after, when she reached her peak at 170 pounds in 2009 at the age of 25.

Here’s her background:

“Growing up I was never comfortable in my own skin.  Never.  I was always the weird one.  I mean, I raised rabbits for a hobby!  RABBITS.  The only after school activity I did was band, and never participated in any sports.  I always thought I was fat.  I always hated my legs, and would refuse to wear shorts in the summer because I was so uncomfortable with them.  If we went to the beach, I’d wear shorts over my bathing suit bottom.

I was super timid, super shy, afraid to talk to ANYONE I didn’t know, even if we were all out with a group of people.”

I asked her what a normal day used to be like for her back in 2009:

“I’d get up at like 9, go to work, have a Slim Fast shake because I never had time for breakfast.  I wasn’t a big snacker but I ate a lot for my meals – I’d typically go out to eat for lunch every day and get a sub or something from D’angelos or Subway – and it was never the 6″ one, it was the big one.  And chips. Lots of chips.  Or french fries.  Getting home I’d either go out to eat with friends or plop in front of the tv playing video games for hours.

My favorite meal was tacos and nachos.   I just asked my old roommate what I used to eat because I didn’t remember, and she said ‘oh, you used to plop in front of the TV with a big plate of meat and cheese, and go ‘Hm, I guess I should have some chips with this.’  On many occasions we’d order pizza around 11PM too.  On top of all of that, I used to smoke a pack of cigarettes a day!”

I’m sure this is a daily scenario that you can relate to: too tired in the morning to eat a healthy breakfast, lots of unhealthy meals, general apathy towards what you’re eating and when, and no real direction.  She went to the doctor, who told her that she had high cholesterol and needed to lose some weight if she wanted to live a long healthy life.

Except that she wasn’t really sure how to lose weight and get in shape.  And she certainly didn’t want to get bulky by lifting weights (gasp!), so she did what most women do when they want to lose weight: eat way less and run way more.

Staci in early 2010

To get started on her weight loss journey, Staci joined a gym and started doing the elliptical as much as possible (because that’s what you do when you want to get skinny, right?).  She said:

“At first I was only able to make it like, 10 minutes, but eventually got up to about an hour a day.  Keep in mind though, I’d smoke a cigarette walking up to the gym, and light up again immediately after leaving.”

I always thought that being super skinny would make me happy, like it was the one missing piece of my life.  I bought countless exercise machines for my apartments, which all ended up sitting in the corner gathering dust.  I bought DDR thinking that if I could exercise in a video game, that would do it.  But it didn’t.  I even tried “Sweatin to the Oldies” (which, for the record, everyone should do, because it at least gets you laughing and moving).  But nothing stuck.

Until I was finally ready.  I can’t say what it was, but I just got up one day and said “ok, I’m going to do this now”.  I can’t tell you what it was – I didn’t set a date ahead of time, I just woke up knowing it was time. I went on weight watchers, I started running.  But as I started to feel the effects of the weight loss, I got obsessed.  I’d weigh myself every day, I got a scale that measured every ounce so I’d know what I lost.

Following this unhealthy plan, Staci went from 170 pounds all the way down to 117 pounds over the course of a year.  And then she started to open her eyes…

“I did lose the 50lbs that I needed to lose, but instead of ‘finding myself’ and becoming comfortable in my own skin, I ended up being LESS comfortable.  Everything I did was based on appearance. I couldn’t do certain things because I was afraid I’d gain an OUNCE back.  It got to the point where a friend of mine would IM me all the time with just “EAT SOMETHING”.  I was tired all the time, I had no energy to do anything even when I was sleeping like 10 hours a night. the bags under my eyes were insane – I simply wasn’t getting the nutrients i needed.

It was at this point that I dated a bodybuilder for like, three weeks (hey, we all make mistakes, right?). He informed me I was doing it all wrong (but didn’t tell me what to do right, just said “youre doing it wrong).  That made me start researching nutrition and strength workouts because I was so incredibly unhealthy, tired, and weak all the time.  I got a set of 5lb dumbbells and a Jillian Michaels DVD and tried doing pushups.   I remember struggling doing chest presses with the 5lb dumbbells.  I was so weak.  And I wouldn’t use weights at the gym because I was so scared of all of the boys on the weight floor.  SO SCARED.

As I found more info on nutrition, I started questioning Weight Watchers, and finally stopped going after I asked a question on how something was healthy and he pulled the line, “we’re not trying to get healthy here, we’re just trying to lose a little weight”.    I started doing more research, read Good Calories, Bad Calories, and started my transition to eating more Paleo in April or May 2010.  I upped my calorie intake to like 1500 a day and immediately started to feel better.”

[Steve's note: I understand that this representative of Weight Watchers certainly doesn't reflect the beliefs and views of all employees at Weight Watchers.  However, I do think WHAT you eat is very important along with how much you're eating."]

Staci starts weight training, goes full Paleo, finds Nerd Fitness

On June 1st, 2010, Staci’s work office opened up a gym with free weights.  Because she was working out with coworkers rather than random strangers, she felt comfortable with strength training; she felt okay asking coworkers questions on different exercises.  Over the next few months, from June until late August, she continued to educate herself on eating better and getting stronger:

“I finished the paleo transition in August or September, and stopped counting calories.  One of the best decisions I’ve ever made in my life; it’s a freedom I can’t even describe.  I just…ate when I was hungry.  I gained weight, but I stayed the same size clothes, so what the scale said didn’t matter.  I went from 117 pounds (at my lowest) to around 130 pounds and felt GREAT about it.  My scale broke in May, so I threw it away and only weigh myself probably once a month these days out of pure curiosity.”

This is Staci at 117 lbs. on the left (doing her best “deer in the headlights” impression), and 131 lbs. on the right.

It was right around this time on her search for Paleo diet information that she stumbled across Nerd Fitness and saw my latest article about the Legend of Zelda(her favorite video game series too).  She joined our community, signed up for one of the monthly challenges, continued to put her focus on strength training, and made sure she ate enough to fuel her workouts.

And then things got interesting.  After tons of encouragement from members of the Nerd Fitness community (thanks Dantes!), she began a torrid love affair in October that most women would scoff at.

Staci began barbell training.

And not wimpy barbell training either.  I’m talking old school heavy deadlifts, squats, overhead presses, and bench presses – the exercises usually reserved for strongmen in the back corner of the gym:

“When I say that the second I touched a barbell I fell in love, I’m not joking.  When people say to me, “oh, its not healthy to lift that much, etc…”  Lifting to me is like going and playing basketball is to someone else.  Its a hobby, and a passion.  I’m not doing it because I have to, I’m doing it because I want to.  I’m simply happier days that I deadlift.”

Staci gets super strong.

Beginning in October 2010, Staci jumped headfirst into the world of power lifting. Over the following six months, she strength trained like her life depended on it, keeping track of her gains and making sure she ate enough to continue getting stronger.  I honestly cannot tell you how refreshing it is to hear that from a woman!  She packed on another ten pounds of muscle and got incredibly strong.

Seriously, how many 5’4″ females who weigh 140 pounds do you know that can deadlift 315 pounds?

Here are her weight training stats for those six months:

Over those six months, Staci put on ANOTHER 10 pounds of muscle while strength training like a World’s Strongest Man contestant and eating A TON of food to make sure she could continue to get stronger. She raised her deadlift from 135 pounds to 315 pounds, added 50 pounds to her overhead press and 50 pounds to her bench press.

You’re probably wondering what happens to a woman’s figure when she goes through this transformation.

Prepare to be shocked.

Staci Now

Believe it or not, she’s 11 pounds HEAVIER (142 pounds) in the picture on the right (May 2011) compared to the picture on the left (131 pounds, October 2010).

So what the hell happened?  How the heck does she look like she weighs less even though she weighs more?

She packed on the right kind of weight while getting rid of the wrong kind.

When you strength train with very heavy weights for low numbers of repetitions, you build incredibly DENSE, tight muscle.  It’s funny, but if you really want that toned look in your legs, stomach, and arms – picking up small weights and doing lots of repetitions isn’t doing anything – it’s really heavy weights with low repetition that will sculpt the body you’re after.

On top of super heavy strength training, Staci had to eat between 3000-4000 calories per day (all healthy calories, mind you) to put on the extra weight.  Had she not overloaded her system with calories, she wouldn’t have gained an ounce.

As we’ve learned from Mark Twight, trainer for the actors from 300, “appearance is a consequence of fitness.” Rather than worrying about every calorie, every ounce of food, and every pound on the scale, Staci put her focus into getting stronger – she ate to get stronger, she exercised to get stronger, she lived to get stronger.:

“The thing that I really gained the most in all of this is that I’m now comfortable with who I am.  I’m comfortable in my skin, I’m not nearly as shy and awkward as I used to be, I’m not afraid to try new things.  I stand up for myself.  I learned about failure and success, and I’m not afraid to try something (and fail) over and over again even if people are watching.  My attitude for life pretty much just changed.  I still remember the day I looked at my legs and said “you know what, these are the legs that help me deadlift, so who cares what they look like.

So the whole point in all of this is really that yeah, appearance is one thing, but it’s not the main goal.  I would gain ten pounds tomorrow if it meant I could add 50lbs to my deadlift.”

Staci is now a machine that can’t be stopped. She joined a Crossfit gym back in March and now does crazy things like “1000 burpees on the 4th of July” for fun.  Yeah, she’s nuts…in the best way possible :)

To read more about Staci, you can finish reading this article here.


Motivational Monday: Mind Over Matter



You must tell yourself that YOU CAN…

Too often I find myself thinking “I don’t know if I can do this…” or even “I can’t do this….” It is in those moments that I have killed any hope I could have had of progressing at that time. I have found that when I go into something thinking “I’ve got this” that I find success!

Just for the record: I PR’d today on hang squat cleans. My previous max was 65#. Today I made it to 75#! It was awesome!! I honestly probably could have done the 80#, but I started that negative thinking….

If you are in the mood for a few good before & after pictures like I was today, you can click the link below!


Jerk Turkey Burgers

I miss Jamaica. A lot. I miss having someone fix all my food for me. I miss getting to choose from LOTS of good foods (a lot of them Paleo, too). I miss having drinks served to me non-stop. I also miss the waves, sand, random musicians, etc…. Ahhhhh….Jamaica!

BUT I’m back here in America sitting in my house. My house that needs cleaning. My house that needs to be packed up and ready to move….so, I might as well do something productive. I’ll cook….and maybe clean and pack and CrossFit.

Speaking of CrossFit…I’m a little mad at him right now. I did this awesome WOD on Tuesday. 3 rounds for time: 50′ handstand walks, 25 wall balls (15#), and 25 box jumps (24″). Well, I decided to be a brave little girl and do things I’ve never done before. Brave and- maybe stupid? First of all, I cannot do handstand walks…yet. Even as a child I couldn’t do them. A couple or few weeks back we had handstand practice. I couldn’t even kick over into a handstand position against the wall. One of the modification for doing the handstand walks is to do a 30 second handstand hold and then a 25′ vertical crawl (which I don’t know exactly how to describe). Well, it did take a few times to kick myself over, but each time I did I held there for 30-35 seconds without breaking the hold! My shoulders burned like hell, but I did it! The vertical crawl was a real leg burner, but whatever! For the wall balls, I have always used a 10# ball (lighter sometimes) or started with a 15# and quickly scale down to 15#, but this time I used the 15# for every single one of those. The thing I am most proud of, though, were the box jumps. In case you don’t know what a box jump is: Lifting both feet at the same time, you must magically spring yourself high enough and over enough to land on top of a box without falling a scraping your shins and busting your face. Then you must not fall and straighten up completely making sure that your hips reach full extension. Well, I have always used an 18-20# box. In addition to that, I’ve only ever done one WOD (I’m pretty sure) that I didn’t sub in some step-ups for the jumps. Well, on Tuesday I used the 24″ box and didn’t step-up one single time. Partly because I don’t think my legs will step that high. I’m amazed that they magically landed on top of the box with a jump. So, I’m kind of pumped. and more than kind of sore….really, really sore. I haven’t worked out since. Once I regain the ability to stand up and walk, I’ll probably go back.

Enough of my WOD work, most of you probably are curious about these jerk burgers….and you should be. They’re delicious!

While in Jamaica we bought some jerk seasoning made in Jamaica by Walkerswood. Here are the ingredients: scallions, scotch bonnet peppers, black pepper, salt, onion, all spice, nutmeg, cane sugar, citric acid, thyme leaves. Yes, there is a little bit of cane sugar… oh no! I’ll probably get really fat! and DIE! …seriously, it’s hard to find a lot of 100% paleo stuff out there and we wanted a taste of Jamaica, so just deal with it! :)

I did find a jerk seasoning recipe for you guys, though, in case you want to make some jerk burgers! ..and I strongly suggest that you do!

Jerk Seasoning recipe
2 tablespoons dried minced onion
2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

If you wanted to try this one a little differently, I’d suggest taking out the cinnamon and adding a pinch of nutmeg. If you’d like to put a drop or two of agave, that would probably be delicious, too!

Anyhow, to make these burgers, you simply mix all of the above ingredients and then knead some of it into your ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground beef. Unless you are making several burgers, don’t use all the seasoning! That recipe above makes 1/4 c. I’d say I used 1 T per burger and they were well seasoned! After that, simply grill them until they are done! I used my George Foreman (always do for turkey burgers).

They are delicious served with mango papaya salsa (recipe coming tomorrow) and homemade sweet potato chips. The potato chips were SO SO easy! All I did was slice the potato into thin little slices (about 3/8″) and placed them on a dehydrator (directions for specific foods are in the instruction guide). I dehydrated them at 140 degrees for 2 hours and then at 130 degrees for another 6 hours or so. I didn’t blanch or season them.

I hope you enjoy your Jerk burgers!



Sunday Success Story (on Tuesday): Claire

I ran across the link to Claire’s blog and success story on the Women of CrossFit=Strong facebook page. Her story is about her first 90 days of Paleo and CrossFit. I’ll let her tell you her story, which she has titled 90 Days of Awesome (which I think is pretty…well, AWESOME)!

90 Days of Awesome

So I wasn’t going to do this. And I REALLY wasn’t going to post photos. But I want people to know that they can do it too. So if you are a random person searching the internet for Crossfit and/or Paleo before and after photos (like I was 3 months ago!), here you have it!

Today marks 90 days, the end of the beginning of my journey into Crossfit. 91 days ago, if you had told me that I would be doing the things that I can do today, I would have laughed at you. If you told me that I would stop eating bread, I would have laughed even harder. If you told me that I would be wearing clothes I have not worn since before Ollie was born, I would have told you to shut the front door. But I am doing it!

Let’s start at the beginning…

I first discovered Crossfit by trolling a women’s workout page on Facebook. There was a post looking for women who do Crossfit that would like to try out for American Ninja Warrior. I LOVE that show! Those normal, everyday people, are amazing athletes! If there is some form of exercise that would get me into that type of shape, I would do it! I forgot all about it until I saw a photo on Facebook of a friend from high school (Casie P!) at her Crossfit gym. She was on gymnast rings, and it looked fun! So I started digging around online and discovered a CF gym (or box, as they are called) right around the corner from me! After reading about CF online and some of the before/after testimonies, I knew without a doubt that this is what I wanted to do. I would gladly give up my beautiful globo-gym membership with it’s spin classes, Zumba, “weight training” classes, Pilates studio, shiny mirrors, army of elliptical machines, hot tubs, spa, and even watersides to “become a Ninja Warrior” (ok, that’s a little dramatic, I’m not REALLY going to be a Ninja Warrior. Or will I?….)

I was completely intimidated by everyone and everything the first time I walked into The Garage. However I was shocked to discover how friendly and down-to-earth every was! Every single person came to shake my hand and welcome me. I could immediately get the sense of a team atmosphere. Bruce was my coach and I as the only person at the 7:00pm class. As he took me through my first warm up, I began to wonder what I had gotten myself in to. 1/4 mile run, bear crawls, mountain climbers, squats, push ups, and burpee broad jumps. And that was just the warm up?!?! The WOD (workout of the day) was scaled down to accommodate to my fitness level. It was 12 minutes for time: 50 wall ball shots (squatting low, then throwing a 12 pound medicine ball to a 9ft mark on the wall, catch, squat, throw, repeat), 100 single jumps with a jump rope, 10 pull ups. Repeat if time is not up. About 3 minutes into it, I wanted to quit so bad. I needed water so bad. I thought I was going to vomit and faint at the same time. Bruce, Simon, and Tim kept telling me I was doing great. Keep moving, even if it is slow, just keep moving. When I couldn’t get my chin up over the pull up bar anymore, Bruce physically pushed me up over the bar. He would not let me stop. I suffered through 1 round + 13 more wall balls. When it was finally over I was delirious. I took a spot flat on my back on the floor. I can’t tell you how long I laid there trying to catch my breath and stop my flailing legs. When I finally was still, I felt…different. I have had many exercise induced “endorphin highs” before, but this was different. The only way I can accurately describe it was sort of euphoric. And it lasted the next few hours. I was hooked!

That same day, I began “The Paleo Diet” (but it truly is a Paleo lifestyle). The prospect of it was horrifying. Before, I used to drink 4-5 diet cokes a day, cookies every night after dinner, a giant dessert once a week, and my family still lovingly (yet truthfully) calls me “Biscuit Butt” because I LOVE biscuits, bread, and pretty much anything with a carb. Seriously, if I can give up grains, ANYONE can give up grains. I expected to feel awful for a few weeks, especially since I was starting Cold Turkey, however it was just the opposite. I felt amazing from the very beginning! I had tons of energy, I was not hungry, no headaches, and very few cravings. I lost 7 lbs the first week. I then began to research the diet, and I decided to eliminate all gluten from my diet. Let me tell you, this was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I have always been what my mom calls “a worry wort.” And when I was 18, I began suffering from panic attacks and severe anxiety. I have never accepted prescribed medication at multiple doctors’ advice, but rather I have tried to manage it on my own. Since I have been eating Paleo, I have had ZERO anxiety. And that was even through weathering the storm of unexpectedly losing my brother-in-law. I absolutely will eat this way for the rest of my life. (Don’t get me wrong, I do allow myself 2 treats a week, just to keep my taste-buds happy!) All of the work I do in the gym is fueled by my food choices. And now, 3 months later, junk food makes me literally sick! MAJOR lifestyle change for me!

I can not talk about my experience with Crossfit and not talk about the people at The Garage. There are so many characters who effect me in different ways. Some keep me laughing, some keep me going, and some and just plain inspirational. There are a few in particular that I want to note, just in case they happen to read this: My #1 coach, Travis, for having confidence in me and making me “lift that grown woman weight.” My lifting partner Susan, for calling me on my B.S., constantly reminding me of my goals, and never, ever, ever letting me sandbag.  And so many other women who celebrate my victories and serve as daily inspiration. I hope that one day I can lift like Jennifer, do pull ups like Angel, be fast like Laura, explain things like Aubrey, and be an all-around bad ass like Jamie. After I’ve had 4 kids, I hope I look like Verity. Then when I “grow up,” I want to be just like Renee, still Crossfitting! (I didn’t mention the guys here, but they are awesome too!) Those are just a few, but seriously, I could not have my rear in the gym and keep going every day without the Crossfit community. So if you are reading this, thank you for being you!!

So that brings me to the big evaluation. How awesome did I really get in 90 days? Pretty dang awesome from where I began! My goal for the year (which I reached in 2 months!) is to do 1 unassisted pull up.. check, I can string together 12 in a row! I can front squat 165 lbs. (started at 70 lbs). Back squat 185 lbs (started at 135) I can easily run 3 miles (0 before). I can do toes-to-bar. I can hang squat clean 110 lbs. I can do real chest-to-ground push ups. I am no longer afraid of box jumps. I can do 50 1.5 pood unbroken kettle bell swings. The word “tabata” no longer makes me weak in the knees. I have discovered that I love rowing. I LOVE olympic lifting. Most importantly, I have learned to *RESPECT* this one body that God gave me by filling it with nutritious food and using it how it was meant to be used so I can live a full life in all areas of my life. It is funny how when I sit down to write my accomplishments, I begin with my working gains. The weight loss is truly secondary, in my mind. But just for the record, I have actually only lost a total of 16 lbs, but I have lost MAJOR fat! I went from approximately 34% body fat down to 27%. I have gone from a size 12 to a size 6 (in my favorite brand). And for the first time since I was 22, I am very happy about my body. Sure, there are still changes I want to make, improvements that will happen, things that will never be the same after having 2 babies (helloooo falling center of gravity!) but I now value my body not for what it looks like, but for what it can do! That is priceless.

I don’t plan on slowing down any time soon. I can only imagine what I will be able to do 6 months from now! And one year from now! Muscle ups. Yes, mark it down, in one year, June 14, 2013, I want to be able to do a muscle up.

The proof (in my old bathing suit. It’s kinna ugly but I wanted to do it for consistency) The side photos are not very good, but you get the idea:

Day 1– size 12


Day 90– size 6



Check out Claire’s blog at


Motivational Monday: When You FAIL…

Well, Brett and I are back from vacation. I have no desire to do anything productive today…except maybe get a meal plan and recipes together. There are tons of things I could be doing: unpacking luggage, doing laundry, packing for the move. Maybe I’ll get around to those, but I’m in no hurry. I do plan to work on getting some posts together for the blog, though, since I’ve been MIA for the past week. :)

Just so you know, we pretty much abandoned Paleo for the week. Yep, I gained three pounds, but I think it was worth it. The food tasted great. We didn’t really eat large portions and even skipped lunch most days, so it was rarely enough to make me feel sick. I definitely can say we made better choices about food due to our paleo convictions, but still had some white potatoes and bread now and then. :)

I found an awesome CrossFit video for today’s motivational Monday. It was posted on the “Women of CrossFit=Strong” facebook page. You should definitely like their page and tell them that “CrossFit + Paleo = Winning Combination” sent you! You should like their page even if you don’t do CrossFit. The motivation they provide to workout is AWESOME!

While on vacation I got a message from one of my BFs saying she felt like a failure during one of the WODs (welcome to the club). We all fail sometimes. CrossFit is hard. There is a saying that goes something like this:

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would be doing it. The hard is what makes it great.”

I love that quote from A League of Their Own. I’ve failed on my front squats three times in the past couple months, only to PR when I tried again while on vacation. Some, or most, WODs kick my butt, but I’m always stronger the next time.

Watch these two videos!

and the CrossFit FAIL video….

Crossfit Fail from Greg Whiteley on Vimeo.

If you’ve never failed, you’ve never lived.

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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in CrossFit, Motivation, Paleo


Before & Progress Pictures

JUST FYI: These before and progress pictures are taken in minimal clothing (beach wear). If you will be offended, don’t look.

Brett and I have been taking pictures every month to help track our progress through our CrossFit/Paleo journey. I had this plan to place them all (each month) side-by-side for you all, but I can’t get them to work that way in wordpress, so I’m just going to post our before and current pictures. We don’t call them “after” pictures yet because we both still see ourselves as works in progress.

We started getting serious about CrossFit and Paleo in February. However, due to an unfortunate event my phone (which the February pictures were on) was destroyed. So we only have pictures from the beginning of March to use as our “before” pictures. Oh well!

Here goes…. early March pics and early June pics…..

Brett (Front Pics)

Brett (side pics)

Brett (back pics)

Brittney (front pics)

Brittney (side pics)

Brittney (back pics)  BEWARE!

and a few random ones from this month…

We don’t by any means consider our physical changes to be “drastic,” but we do feel that they are worth being proud of.

I am most proud of the fact that I work out regularly. That in itself is a big deal for me. I look forward to seeing more changes in my mental and physical shape.

Brett is most proud of the fact that at age 30 he is in better shape than he was in high school. He enjoys being able to do some of the CF WODs as prescribed. He looks forward to more defined abs. :)



I know much of this blog most of this blog is concentrated on how to eat well, but there’s more to a healthy lifestyle than that. While diet is 70% of the battle, a very important aspect to being healthy and fit is exercising regularly. I seem to see everywhere that being fit is 70% diet and 30% exercise. I’ve also seen that it’s 60% diet, 30% exercise, and 10% genetics, but I’m no doctor, so I don’t know any of it for sure. However, everything seems to be close to those percentages.

I always hated to work out. Totally and completely true. My sister and a friend used to run together in high school. Anytime I’d go with them (which was not often), they ended up laughing at me because I just couldn’t handle it. In college I took a lifetime wellness class and had to work out some (weights) to pass the class, but I did the bare minimum. After college I lived with a friend who ran all the time and loved it. I may have gone with her once in the six months we lived together. After getting married I started going to the gym with some girlfriends for Yogalates (Yoga/Pilates Fusion) and cardio dance, but I never enjoyed it enough to be consistent. After that I tried Zumba for a while, but I didn’t stick with that long either.

Workouts were either miserably boring or too repetitive. I got bored and never really enjoyed any of it for a length of time. I also just felt like another face in the crowd. Sure, I had at least one really good friend with me on each occasion, but my workouts were lacking a supportive community. How can anyone really stick around for extended amounts of time in a situation like that? I think that’s why I have really enjoyed CrossFit.

I go to workouts now without a best friend or Brett going with me. I’m part of a family-a CrossFit family. Our classes are no bigger than 10-12 people on average…sometimes less. You know everyone’s name…even the newbies. Everyone is encouraged and pushed to reach their full potential. I’m no longer a face in the crowd, but a person with a name and potential.

If you are interested in working out at a CrossFit gym and you are in the Jackson area, check out CrossFit Jackson‘s website.

I read an article today from Invictus CrossFit. The article was titled “Don’t Workout with Strangers.” I’ve copied and pasted it below. It expresses what I’m feeling much better than I did.

Elevators are awkward. They present an opportunity by which you could be uncomfortably confined with several individuals that you have never met. Body odors, loud talkers and space invaders are just a few of the many perils of the awkward elevator situation. And because we know that the ride will end soon, it just isn’t worth making a personal connection with our fellow passengers. Unfortunately, at GloboGyms around the country, millions of individuals are turning their fitness facilities into similarly awkward and unappealing places. GloboGyms are filled with people tuned in to their headphones and doing everything humanly possible to avoid eye contact. There is always some trepidation as to whether someone is going to want to “work in” with you and leave a sweaty trail in their wake. More often than not there is a guy grunting or yelling loud enough for any female of breeding age to hear him from across the gym and look over to see his kipping bicep curl. Despite all of this, millions suck it up and hurry through their workout hoping to make it out of their with as few awkward interactions as possible.

Why do people choose to put themselves in that environment? Given a choice, wouldn’t you rather workout amongst friends who will support and encourage your efforts and celebrate your successes? If not, you’re a sociopath and can stop reading. But if you are like those of us who enjoy the company of others, CrossFit Invictus is the place for you.

One of our taglines and objectives at CrossFit Invictus is “Building Communities,” and it is something we take very seriously. We believe that there is more to elite fitness than just athletic achievement. CrossFit facilitates development of mental fortitude because of the rigors associated with its relative intensity, but more importantly, it fosters friendships in a way that is only typically seen in team sports and certain divisions of our Armed Forces. CrossFit can at once be inspiring and humbling. It presents hurdles that seem insurmountable and the thrill of achievement when they are overcome. It’s precisely because of these rigors and their associated emotions that we grow close to those who share the experience with us. We cheer the loudest for others because we remember overcoming a similar obstacle and know the sense of achievement. Their successes become our inspiration and drive us to achieve even more.

For the most part, this community building is organic and needs very little tending. But it is important to plant the seed. At CrossFit Invictus I ask at the beginning of each coaching session that everyone takes a moment to introduce themselves to anyone in the room they don’t know. I encourage our more veteran athletes to take the initiative to introduce themselves to newcomers even before the session begins. It might seem silly or forced, but it is amazing how knowing someone’s name can change your view of them and your willingness to connect with them. So if you have not made a habit of it already, be sure to shake someone’s hand and introduce yourself the next time you see someone in here that you haven’t met. By doing so, you help us combat the awkwardness that plagues GloboGyms (and elevators) everywhere.

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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in CrossFit


Sunday Success Story: Johana Pat

The story below is about Johana Pat. She began CrossFit in January 2010 and the Primal/Paleo diet in March 2010. You can read her story below and check out her results 7 months into CrossFit and 5 month into the Primal/Paleo diet.

This article was written by Johana and copied from here.

Johana Pat - Before and After

Johana Pat – Before and After

As a child I was fairly thin but once puberty hit I no longer was ever really thin again. I had never been greatly overweight during my teenage years but I definitely was not comfortable in my weight and appearance. After graduating high school I would go through spurts of working out, lose a little weight, then get bored of the routine of it all and go back to how things were before. This cycle lasted for years, and hit the worst after a break up with a boyfriend that affected me in the worst way. I had gained weight while with him and a bit more after the break up. I was unhappy with myself and what I had let happen.

Come January of this year I was fed up. I knew very well that it is all in my control and that I need to quit half-assing my efforts. I made a promise to myself that this time I will do a ton of research, ask questions, and keep to a fitness plan to lose weight the healthy way. And I did, and I did well. I was eating healthy and doing circuit training on my own up until March.

Johana Pat - KB Snatch

Johana Pat – KB Snatch

In March, after consulting with Your Nutrionista on healthy eating habits, she asked if she could add me as a trial client for nutrition consulting and I agreed. She is the one that introduced me to the Primal Blueprint (Mark’s Daily Apple). I was very hesitant and anticipated it to be much harder than I ever imagined – I mean, come on, no bread, pasta, rice, beans, artificial sugars, AND keep it low carb? But she insisted that I try it for 2 weeks and see how I adjust and if I like it. I was game and decided to dive in headfirst. Surprisingly, it was not as hard as I anticipated and always felt energized and was never hungry.

As I did research on other blogs that eat primal or paleo, I noticed that most (if not all) people that eat this way also do CrossFit. I wondered to myself, what is this CrossFit that they speak so highly of? Did more research again. I was very intrigued at the intensity. So what did I do? More research of course! I browsed for CrossFit gyms in my area and came across more than I ever expected but I decided to contact the one that was closest to me, CrossFit 310 in Redondo Beach, CA.

By this point in April, I had lost about 30lbs on my own already. Then I contacted Kris, the affiliate’s owner, and we set up a time for me to come try it out with the free introductory class. Since I had been doing circuit training I wasn’t too worried about keeping up, but I also had no idea what to expect and I knew it’d be so different than what I’m used to.

I’ll never forget my first experience walking into CrossFit 310. First of all, it’s basically a warehouse, with a huge garage door opening, but I walked through the lobby doors. No treadmills, no ellipticals, no step machines, no weight machines, and no mirrors. All I saw was bars, hanging rings (what, is this gymnastics or what?), barbells, plates, a rope (is this the military or what?), row machines, a punching bag laying on the floor (how are you supposed to kickbox with it on the floor?), and all this scribbling on white boards.

Then Kris came to greet me, asked me some questions about my physical health and I gave him a quick recap, I signed a release form (in case of injury), and genuinely said he’s excited to have me try it. Did a WOD with the rest of the group, which on that day were all ladies who were very welcoming and guided me through the warm up. After the WOD? Felt like I couldn’t walk, but I felt amazing.

Johana Pat - Box Jumps

Following the WOD, he stated, “I’ve never been a great salesman, ever, which is why I wanted you to try it for yourself as opposed to me telling you what it is and selling it to you…if you liked what you experienced, come back for another WOD in a couple days.” And I did just that. After a few more times, we discussed rates and I joined officially.

That was in April of this year, and the transformation my body has taken from then to now is nothing short of amazing. Beyond the physical transformation, I am immensely stronger. Which completely debunks the myth that you’ll get bulky if you lift heavy weights. I fell in love with CrossFit back then and I am still utterly in love with it. Isn’t that what most people strive for? To have a fitness regimen that you wholeheartedly have a passion for and look forward to? Well, I have found that, and would recommend it to everyone and anyone.


Sunday Success Story: Kristy Griner

This success story is awesome! I was also super pumped because she lives in Tennessee…not too far from Jackson! Kristy’s story proves that you don’t have to go super strict in the beginning to get results. Sometimes you just have to do what’s best for your body. If it works, stick with it!

Copied from

Paleo Success Story: 120 lbs lost, body fat reduction from 49% to 23%, and paying it forward

So today’s Paleo success story is all about 36 year old Kristy Griner and her incredible transformation from a women who weighed 284lbs and was comprised of 49% body fat to someone who now weights 163lbs, is 23% body fat and can dead-lift something that weighs more than your refrigerator.

She was very forthcoming with her story and answered EVERY question I asked.  I have included all the questions and answers below so you can get the most bang for your buck (being that this blog is free that really makes no sense does it?).

I would suggest you read this post with the goal of STEALING IDEAS. Be sure you have a pen and paper handy and write down those things that really strike you. There is a lot you can take and apply RIGHT NOW!

As a SPECIAL BONUS, Kristy will be checking in regularly over the weekend to answer any questions you may have for her. So be sure to leave a comment below.

Alright, I will zip it so you can dig into her wonderful story. Enjoy!


Talk to us about when your weight became an issue for you and some of the details as to why that was?

Weight has been an issue you with me on and off my whole life.  I was overweight in high school and gained more weight afterwards.  It wasn’t easy having skinny, beautiful friends who had boyfriends, while I only got attention from guys so they could get to my friends.

In 1999, I told my dad I wanted to be a police officer.  He took that to heart and dragged my a$$ out of bed one morning to being my training.  I lost 80 pounds and got into the Police Academy.  I was 185lbs and still in crappy shape compared to everyone else, but I passed the academy.

In 2001, I got hired with the San Diego Sheriffs Department (Detentions) and porked out again.  Night shifts were brutal and taco shop runs became the norm.

In March 2007, my husband and I moved to Nashville.  That is where my REAL struggles began. I left my entire life behind (San Deigo) to move here (Henderson, Tennessee) and start a family. At that time I was about 205 pounds.

Things did not turn out like I thought they would. I got pregnant with my son Danny and porked out. Then I lost my job.

I guess it was safe to say I hit ROCK BOTTOM.

What was your peak weight? Did you have any health problems. 

Before I had my baby, I was 285 pounds. I lost 20 after having him, but I was suffering. I had back pain, postpartum depression, fibromyalgia, plantar fasciitis and I was lonely.

I was taking Soma (Muscle Relaxers) for pain and Sevella (pain and depression) on a regular basis.

I was sleeping all day long, crying all the time, and in pain.

What was your breaking point?

My breaking point was when I became a new mom. My body was in such pain that I had no desire to do anything. I felt like my husband didn’t love me anymore. He wasn’t paying any attention to me. I know now, that he was suffering too. I had all the classic signs of depression.

It was not until January 2009 when I finally decided to go to the doctor about all this.  She put me on some anti-depressants.  I was reluctant to take them, but I was desperate at that point.

After a few weeks, my mood started improving. That is when I went searching for a gym and found a diamond in the rough.

Diamond you say? Do tell.

After seeing my doctor, I  joined a weight loss support group called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly).  I set a goal weight with a doctor and did mild exercise, but the pounds were not coming off.

Then I got wind of Hendersonville First Baptist having a gym which cost $25 a month. I signed up.  I got a free 30 minute session with a trainer and I followed his plan, but I wanted more.  Out of work, I would somehow scrape $20 up and ask the trainer for more.

One day he said, “I can’t help you anymore, but I know who can.”  He introduced me to my angel…Lindsey McDuffie, who was the owner of Crossfit Hendersonville.  There was no way I could afford her services, but I did one free WOD (workout of the day) and I was hooked.

I remember that WOD.  It SUCKED.  I was in pain, I felt like a LOSER, but I wanted more. So I went to my friends and asked if I could clean their houses and wash their cars to pay for my membership so I could continue.

How did you discover the Paleo Diet?

Lindsey slowly started talking to me about my nutrition.  I have lost weight before so I thought I knew it all.   I kept thinking, “What does this 25 year old know about food?” I was reluctant to try Paleo because at the time I thought, “I ain’t gonna eat like a damn Hippy.”

Whoa! Was I wrong.  She convinced me to do an 8 week “Eat your Best” challenge . The goal was to eat my best and she would grade myfood journal and tell me what changes to make.

The hardest for me was getting off dairy. Lindsey posed a challenge to get me off all dairy for 2 weeks. I did that and WOW! She was right…my joints hurt less (good for my Fibromyalgia) and the weight was coming off.

I tested it one day by having a milkshake . The next morning my knees hurt like crazy. That’s when I learned that what you eat today, dictates how you feel tomorrow.

I am not strict Paleo and I probably never will be, but I have learned that everything in moderation.

So explain what these gradual changes looked like for you?

Some people can do the 30 day strict Paleo kickoff, but that was not for me so I opted to make gradual changes.

I ate a ton of pasta, bread, and rice. So for week 1, I decided I was going to reduce my bread intake by 50%.

For week 2, I continued with my 50% bread reduction, but I also had a vegetable with one meal. Then it was veggies with 2 meals. Then I followed that by cutting my bread back by 75%.

Then I had to learn to love salads. I had to lose the ranch dressing, so I swapped it out for Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing.

I think you get the point. I made small changes until I discovered what felt good.

I also started finding things that could mimic the foods I loved. For instance I started using cauliflower rice vs rice. I could still eat it like a stir fry. The only difference was that I had swapped out the grain for something that fit into the Paleo template.

My weight loss took 22 months, but it was worth it!

Talk about the first month or two? What where some of biggest obstacles and how did you address them?

I’m not going to lie.  The first several months SUCKED.  I never allowed myself to eat CLEAN for longer than a few days before I fell off the wagon.  But I finally understood how crappy I felt when I ate crappy foods.

My biggest obstacle the first few months was WAITING FOR RESULTS. I wanted an instant fix.

I also had trouble getting my routine down mostly because I had no ME time.

I knew I had to make ME a priority, but I struggled with that. I finally had to tell my husband that I was going to be selfish for a while, so that I could get back on track. I mean how could I possibly take care of my family if I was miserable?

What are some strategies you used to make the transition sustainable? 

During the 8-week “Eat your Best Challenge” Lindsay had me take my measurements, weigh myself, take before photos, and I was required to keep and submit a weekly food journal. These little challenges helped me transition into this lifestyle.

How long did it take before you noticed positive results?

Physically, it took a few months to see any results, but after 3 weeks, I was ready to lift heavier, walk faster, and go harder. I was motivated, because I was feeling good about me. I still hated who I saw in the mirror, but knew if I kept doing what I was doing, I would someday love ME. I was right.

Talk about your family and friends? Were they supportive?

Words can’t describe how supportive my friends and family have been. I moved 2000 miles away. We didn’t know anyone in Hendersonville, but the people at TOPS and Crossfit were so supportive.

I also used Facebook as a tool to announce my successes and failures. That was VERYinstrumental in my success because I learned I was not the only one who felt the way I did. I got support when I failed and cheers when I succeeded.

I soon started hearing that I was inspiring others. That motivated me even more. I was even able to get others to join me on my journey. How awesome is that?

My daddy even started working out. He followed in my footsteps. He started eating Paleo-Esque and exercising and has lost 70+ pounds. He is 63 and in better shape than when he was in his 50’s.

Talk about your triggers.

ICE CREAM is my trigger food. I ate it when I was sad and I ate it when I was happy. I love ice cream. To avoid binges, I have what I call “Milkshake Monday.” Every Monday, I treat myself to an ice cream.

CHIPS and SALSA are another treat. When I go out to a Mexican restaurant, my rule is that I only eat the chips till the food gets there.  I know my meal will be healthy, so I don’t feel as guilty.

Give us a sample of a typical eating day for you?

  • Pre WOD: Lunch Meat and handful of Almonds (Protein/Fat) or a protein bar (if I’m lazy)
  • Post WOD: hard boiled egg and 1/2 a sweet potato (Protein/Carb)
  • Breakfast: 3 eggs (cooked in coconut oil), 3 slices of turkey bacon (I love me some bacon), some sort of fruit (seasonal/depending on my mood)
  • Snack: Apples and Peanut Butter (I should be using Almond butter, but I am only human)
  • Lunch: Romaine Salad with cranberries, almonds, and chicken (or what ever meat I have available)
  • Snack: Greek Yogurt with Almonds
  • Dinner: Chicken, Veggies, Avocados (Protein, Carb, Fat)
  • Snack: Lunch meat

I also belong to a dinner club.  Two of my friends and myself prepare 3 meals each and leave it at the gym every Monday.  The meals have to be Paleo.  This ensures we have a minimum of 3 Paleo dinners a week plus leftovers.

How do you deal with treats? What is your philosophy?

I say I am Paleo-esque because there are some things I never took out of my diet.

For example, I  eat Greek yogurt (dairy) and I occasionally have cheese with my omelet in the mornings.  I generally follow the rules of no grains, bread, pasta, rice, or sugar (I do have sugar, but really watch my intake).

If I want to eat a piece of bread I do.  I refuse to be on a diet. I choose to eat healthy instead.

What are 3 habits that you do consistently regardless of the chaos that may be going on in other areas of your life?

  • Workouts: They are an important part of my life now. In order for me to maintain my happiness and to have my family life continue to flow as well as it now does, I have to have my ME time. My husband now has his time too (I am SO excited he is finally on board with fitness and healthy eating. He is on his own journey right now.)

  • Breakfast: This is a MUST for me. I am always hungry and this really get’s my body going and ready for the day.

  • Have food with me: I can’t allow my body to hit “Starvation” mode. I strive to keep my body in a “Zone.” I feel crappy when I am not fueled properly. I always have food on me. They make lunch bags now that look like purses. If I get stuck somewhere, I can simply grab my snacks.

Talk about community and how you use it to build accountability into your program.

Having a community of people is the key to success. I not only benefited from having the Crossfit and TOPS community, but I got involved as well. I am a Chapter Leader at TOPS and I am now Level 1 Crossfit Certified.

I can now pay it forward. I have made healthy living WHO I AM.

Our Crossfit Family does activities all the time. We go white water rafting, hiking, participate in fitness events, organize fitness fundraisers, have girls/guys night outs, etc. I have 125 or more people that hold me accountable. I have 16 WONDERFUL ladies that hold me accountable at TOPS. Then I get blessed with situations like this, that allow me to share my story. How can I ever go back?

What indicators do you use to measure your progress? 

I still use the scale once a week, but mostly I gauge my progress by how my clothes fit. If my pants are tight, it’s time to change the diet and activity again.

What does a typical week of workouts look like?

  • Monday: Crossfit WOD in AM then Endurance WOD PM
  • Tuesday: Crossfit WOD
  • Wednesday: Crossfit WOD
  • Thursday: Crossfit WOD maybe PM Endurance WOD (depending on how body feels. Got to listen to her)
  • Friday: Crossfit WOD
  • Saturday: Long Distance Run or Crossfit WOD
  • Sunday: Rest

Some weeks I take one day of rest and some I take 2. I listen to my body. This week I rested 3 days in a row. I was beat.

How Paleo do you need to be to make this work?

I am not sure if you are familiar with the “Zone” concept. I try to stick to “Blocks.” So if I am a 13 block person it would be broken down like this.

  • 3 Blocks of Protein/Fat/Carb for breakfast
  • 3 Blocks of Protein/Fat/Carb for lunch
  • 3 Blocks of Protein/Fat/Carb for dinner
  • 1 block each snack (total 2 a day)

[Note: A block=1 macro-nutrient. So in the omelet picture above, she has two blocks covered; protein (eggs) and fat (avocado)]

How do you motivate yourself on days when you are just not into it?

My Dad taught me the 5 minute rule. Give it 5 minutes. If you still don’t want to, then stop. To be honest, I look forward to my WODs. That means I have an opportunity to get better. Plus I look forward to coaching or socializing with my Crossfit family. It’s not just a gym, it’s a fellowship.

What blogs have been big influencers?

My biggest personal influences are Lindsey McDuffie (Coach/Owner of Crossfit Hendersonville), Billy and Jessica Shelton (Coaches/Spiritual Mentors), and my family.

[Dean-o-rant: No Being Primal!! This is an outrage!! I'm taking my blog and I'm going home.] :-)

Kristy and the Family

Talk about your struggles now as compared to when you first started.

My struggle now is maintaining. I have gained 3 pounds over the past few weeks and I have to analyze where I am going wrong. I discovered that I was eating a lot of fruit (sugars) and not as much protein. I am going to fine tune that and see if I can get some changes.

I am also beefing up my water intake again. I got a little lax. This is something I have to do for the rest of my life. It stinks sometimes, but considering the alternative, it’s well worth it.

What are some of the misconceptions people have in this space?

There is a misconception that there is a quick fix. There is NOT. I put in 22 months and my blood, sweat, and tears and I will have to continue to do this for the rest of my life.

What are 5 uncommon lessons you would want people to walk away with that they could apply to their journey right now?

1. Love (your) GOD:  This was not my first rule in the beginning, but when I allowed Jesus back in my heart, I started loving myself and the rest fell into place.

2. Love yourself: If you don’t love and take care of yourself, how can you possibly take care of your family.  Once I started doing this and believing it, things started to fall into place.

3. Don’t diet:  I don’t diet. I instead choose to live a healthy eating lifestyle. Diets are a temporary solution to a permanent problem.  I have slowly changed my “diet” over the past few years.  I am still a work in progress.   For me to say I am “strict” Paleo only sets me up for failure.  I choose to do the best I can by living healthy.

4. Accountability, Accountability, Accountability:  Surround yourself with like-minded people. When I discovered Crossfit Hendersonville, that was my answer.  There are over 150 members who are 110% into being healthy.

They have watched me transform and there is NO WAY I CAN QUIT.  If I miss a workout, I get 100 phone calls or texts.

When we socialize, we go to places that serve healthy food, share recipes, etc.  When we food share, it’s healthy.  There is no way for me to fail with my Crossfit Family.

5. Share your story: If you share your story, you can inspire others. Many tell me that I have inspired them.  I feel blessed to know that.

My Dad, who is 62, has been following in my footsteps and has lost 70 pounds and is in the best shape of his life.  He eats a Zoleo (Zone/Paleo) type diet.  He shares his story, and he has inspired many.

Kristy and her dad

What are your goals moving forward?

My goal is to get stronger and leaner. I want to be in the “Lean” category on the body fat charts. I have 3% to go. I have to decide when I want to get strict and just do it.

I also want to share my story and help others succeed and reach their goals. I love being a coach at Crossfit because it has blessed me with so many wonderful people that I get to see as they move forward on their journey.

We all have a journey. What’s yours?


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Posted by on May 13, 2012 in CrossFit, Paleo, Success Story


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